Journal 2009

December 16, 2009
Variations on a Theme of Green

You saw that last one coming, right?

 

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and best wishes for a fantastic 2010.

See you next year!
Laura


December 8, 2009
Countdown to the Holidays

This time of year is always crazy busy and it's always hard to say why. It doesn't seem like a few holidays—supposedly a few days off—could consume so many weeks on either side of them, but that's what always ends up happening. At least, that's what happens to me.

This year, in addition to the usual shopping, cooking, and holiday visiting, I have Green's launch coming up and I'm working on a secret project. I can't tell you what that project is yet, being as it's secret, but I will. Hopefully soon.

And on top of all that, I've been reading like a maniac. The library system in San Diego is great, and lately it's been brilliant. Despite constant budget threats, reduced staff, and cuts in hours, somebody there has managed to buy in all the latest, hottest YA books—and 2008 and 09 have been great years for YA. Here are a few of the newer books I've read recently: Thirteen Reasons Why, Paper Towns, Bog Child, Suite Scarlett, The Graveyard Book, Catching Fire, Going Bovine, Chains, Wintergirls, Another Kind of Cowboy, Jellicoe Road, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, Graceling, and Shiver. If you're looking for teen books for gifts this year, the problem won't be finding something. The problem will be choosing.

Another thing I'm generally called upon to do during the holidays is bake a cheesecake. I make a good cheesecake, but I can't take credit for the recipe, which came out of a book and looks suspiciously like this. If you're in charge of dessert this year, you might give this cheesecake recipe a try. The only thing I'd add is to put your finished cheesecake in a cardboard cake box (or cover the pan with a sheet of cardboard) and leave it in the refrigerator to age for two days. Then, on the third day, serve it up and be prepared to bake one every year. Which won't take up much of your time compared to the shopping, and wrapping, and mailing, and cleaning, and decorating, and traveling . . . and shopping.

Yeah. I'd better get going.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


November 20, 2009
Ta Da! Trailer!

Here it is, my brand-new book trailer for Green. It will be posted more places soon, but since you're seeing it here, you're among the very first viewers! Ready . . . set . . . click!

 

 

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


November 16, 2009
Five Things I've Learned Since My Last Journal Post

1) Dogs do not dislike Daylight Saving Time; they fail to recognize it completely. That "extra" hour of sleep I'm supposed to be getting now? Ha! The only things the DST time change has accomplished around here are now it gets dark at a ridiculously early hour and morning feeding time has moved from 7 to 6 a.m. Oh joy.

2) Adobe Premiere Elements is a really hard program to learn. Especially if you are using version 3, which is so old now that you can't even buy a book about it, let alone find a class. I took ten hours of classes in Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, the current, supposedly harder, full-strength version of this program, only to discover that I still barely knew what I was looking at when I went back to Elements 3. YouTube to the rescue! What I couldn't learn at a good school from an adult computer genius in ten hours, I picked up from a teenage boy in a homemade ten-minute video. Once again, I should have started on the Internet. But why this rant about software?

3) Because I finally learned how to make a book trailer and have finished one for Green! It's not quite ready to show yet, but it will be. Very soon. If I say next week, will I jinx myself? That's not a chance I'm willing to take. But check back. Next week.

4) London Bridge is in Arizona.

Okay, technically I already knew this, but I forgot it until we decided to visit Lake Havasu. I am absolutely crazy for all things Victorian and English, so I made my husband skipper our inflatable boat beneath this bridge more times than he wanted to. And then get out and walk over it with me.

Bliss.

  

You either get it or you don't, I guess. Which leads us to #5. . . .

5) What the heck is this?

I know you want to say duck—we all do. But look closer. Seriously.

This guy just might be a cross between a duck, a swan, and a rooster. Since I still don't know what he is, I guess I can't say I really learned anything for #5—except that there are some extremely weird-looking birds hanging out at London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Thanks for visiting!
Green trailer soon!

Laura


October 30, 2009
Happy National Candy Corn Day!

As you know, I have tried to perform a public service in this journal by featuring little-known holidays such as National Procrastination Week, National Pancake Day, and more. All I can say is, whoever came up with National Candy Corn Day wins. The rest of you wannabe holiday inventors might as well quit now—you are never, ever going to top this. Seriously, give up while you can still leave the field with some dignity.

According to Brach's (my favorite brand), Americans consume an estimated 20 million pounds of candy corn each year. Put me down for two pounds this year* and never let it be said that I don't do my part.

Not only is today National Candy Corn Day, but Halloween is on a Saturday this year, which ought to make for a few extra hours of haunting. Yikes! You know what I just realized? Because of the November 1 Daylight Saving Time change, at 2 a.m. on Halloween night all the clocks will go back to 1 a.m. Does that mean bars will stay open an extra hour? That Halloween parties will just keep on going? That the ghosts who walk at midnight get a few extra laps to stretch their legs?

I'm not sure who first said "Nothing good happens after 2 a.m." They're definitely right in the case of Daylight Saving Time, and in my experience, pretty right in general. Still, an extra hour of Halloween?

How can that be bad?

Eat some candy corn for me!
See you soon,

Laura

*So far, because candy corn is usually half price in November.


October 15, 2009
Teen Read Week

Next week, October 18 through 24, is Teen Read Week. Your local library may be planning special events around this, and if not, there's plenty going on online.

Readergirlz will be having live chats all week. Check out their trailer:

 

Even though it's not technically during teen read week, Readergirlz is also having a live chat with Libba Bray, author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, on October 28. I can't wait to read her latest, Going Bovine. (Scroll toward the bottom of this link to see Libba in a cow suit.)

Also during Teen Read Week, the America Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association (say that fast ten times) announces its Teens' Top Ten list for the year. Here's the skinny on that from the ALA: "Teens' Top Ten is a 'teen choice' list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year."

The Teens' Top Ten nominations for 2009 are posted here. I've actually read five of these books, which makes me happy because I hope it means I'm catching up on my reading. And (not to be biased, as I haven't read them all) if you haven't read The Hunger Games, you should go out and get it right now. I'm not a big fan of its cover, so if it leaves you cold too, don't judge by that. This book is teen Survivor on steroids. I couldn't put it down.

What am I up to during Teen Read Week? I'll be starting a class in Adobe Premiere Pro so that I can learn to make simple movies. If all goes well, the next step will be a book trailer for Green. My favorite book trailer of the moment involves rapping, which may not be my forte, but I'm all about learning new skills.

Rapping leprechauns. That has potential, right?

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—If you're interested in participating in NaNoWriMo this year, now's the time to be gearing up. Don't know what NaNoWriMo is? Check here, and here, and here.


October 2, 2009
Things I'm Not Putting on My Bucket List

I've been thinking a lot about bucket lists lately. I can't say I find the idea of living by a list appealing, but the best way I know of getting something is to make that thing a priority and then make a plan around it. And solid plans frequently involve lists.

Even so, to write down everything I want to do before I die feels more limiting than liberating. Which is why I've decided to start work on the much shorter list of things I'm not going to do.

  Laura's Antibucket List:

1. Pet Monkey

In the eighth grade, I developed a desperate desire for a pet monkey and I've carried that torch ever since, even though the dogs I was later lucky enough to own took a lot of the edge off. I've looked into getting a monkey many, many times. The fact that owning primates in California eventually became illegal is one of those inconveniences that beating one's head and wallet against the system can generally overcome, so I didn't let that discourage me. But about a year ago, I discovered the fatal flaw in my pet monkey dream: the monkey is just not that into you. That monkeys make difficult pets is something I'm able to handle; that they make unhappy pets is an insurmountable obstacle. Knowing this, sadly, I kick off my antibucket list with "pet monkey."

 

2. Skydiving

There were a number of years when I not only wanted to do this, I absolutely would have jumped if given the chance. What can I say? You get older. You get sane.

 

 

3. Scuba diving

See #2 above. If you find a sunken galleon in warm, shallow, shark-free waters, invite me to come look for gold doubloons and I'll take scuba off my list. Short of the sunken treasure model, though, I don't see this happening. Not only am I lousy at holding my breath, I can't get into four feet of saltwater anymore without hearing the theme song from Jaws.

 

 

4. Fugu

Two words: raw fish. The fact that this dish is also sometimes poisonous enough to kill people barely even matters.

 

 

 

 

5. Jail Time

Speaking of unpleasant things, I'm pretty sure I won't mind missing out on this.

 

 

 

6. Tattoos

I am fascinated by tattoos. When I see a tattoo, a story immediately starts inside my head: What drove this person to let a (generally total) stranger permanently ink his or her skin? Why at that moment? Why this particular image? And—most importantly—how cool is that snake on a skateboard going to look to its owner fifty years from now? Even the most classic and gorgeously done artwork has a shelf life when the canvas is human skin. Ink bleeds; skin sags; cells fall apart. I am more than a little curious to see an eighty-year-old with neck tattoos—just so long as I'm not looking into a mirror. Tattooing is an art form I've decided to enjoy from a distance.

 

 

7. Big Wave Surfing

See #3 above. Not to mention that surfers have to be . . . I don't know . . .coordinated? I swallowed my share of saltwater as a kid. Now I'm older and realize that somebody needs to watch the beach towels. I'll be your designated dryer.

 

 

This antibucket list is even shorter than I anticipated. Which means there will probably have to be a Part 2 at some point, but for now let's leave it at this.

I'm in no hurry to kick the bucket.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


September 9, 2009
You Laughing at Me?

Years ago I read an article (I can't find it now) which suggested that most humor comes from pain, that the stuff that really makes us laugh generally has something dark beneath it. From Road Runner to Richard Pryor to Little Miss Sunshine, I have found this theory to hold up well. And now in the pain-is-funny department, CBS is developing a sitcom about publishing.

Your manuscript was rejected? You got a bad review? Two weeks from deadline your plot is falling apart and you're suffering an existential crisis? Cue the laugh track!

Of course, this sitcom will feature an editor's point of view, so that changes things a little: You're deluged with completely unpublishable manuscripts? The project you fought to acquire gets a bad review? Two weeks from deadline your author has forgotten how to write and is having a nervous breakdown? Still funny!

Then again, this new show from a veteran Will & Grace writer/producer may only be as much about publishing as that show was about interior design. But let's hope not. Because if pain is funny, then publishing is hilarious. I'll be watching, guaranteed.

And in the meantime, we have this:

 

Even though YouTube made this author replace her original (perfectly chosen) music ("Do You Believe in Magic?"), her video still makes me laugh. To rewrite Homer Simpson, "It's funny because it's not true."

You know what they say: No pain, no gain.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


August 29, 2009
Outlook Calendar: My New Favorite Program*

It works! Boy, does it work. Not only can you make a book timeline using the Calendar feature in MS Outlook, you can custom color code it using shades tailored to event importance, character POV, or whatever else seems relevant. (I used to do this with colored pencils and/or highlighters, neither of which erase well.) MS calendars turn out to be searchable, so you can easily find any detail you might be looking for. And, best of all, the calendars are printable—in color—so if you want to spread your timeline all over your kitchen table and compare it to your outline, you can.

I feel like I just discovered America. Fictional America, anyway. Seriously, making a book timeline in Calendar is so much easier and more functional than my old way of creating one that I almost cried a little. If your work in progress covers a period long enough to make keeping track of your timeline a challenge, give Calendar a try.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

*Not counting Scrabble, which is still just as addicting as feared.


August 23, 2009
Let Me Just Pencil That In . . .

I've finally found a use for the Calendar feature in MS Outlook. If you own this program, you know it contains three main features: Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. The Mail feature is the big draw for me, and Contacts maintains my e-mail addresses so that part's useful too. Calendar was the feature I never knew what to do with.

Okay, I'm not clueless—I know what Microsoft thinks I should do with Calendar. I even know people who swear by that feature for keeping track of all their work and personal appointments. Call me old school, but I still prefer a pencil. Unlike my computer, the paper appointments calendar on my desk is always powered up, and it's simply easier to jot something there, in pencil, and erase it if things change. I'll acknowledge that if I were constantly on the move, I might see the beauty of making those notations from my Blackberry. But I'm not. So I don't. However, there's one thing I've been using paper calendars for that is not convenient at all: creating timelines for books.

The action in many of my books takes place over weeks or months. The Clearwater Crossing series covers an entire calendar year. And even fictional time doesn't occur in a vacuum—it's filled with weekdays, weekends, holidays, school vacations, special events, and seasonal activities. Sports a character plays may only happen during certain times of the year. Weather patterns factor in. And when a plot covers an entire year, every single character experiences a birthday. To make sure I'm properly accounting for all these things (and more), I often plot the beats of developing outlines on a calendar. A paper calendar. Which in the past I've created by Xeroxing pages out of my appointment calendar and marking them up with a pencil. Then erasing them. And re-marking them. And re-erasing. And re-marking. And, on a bad day, replacing with new copies and starting over. (Repeat as needed.)

I was just about to embark on a paper timeline for an outline I'm working on now when it hit me: I can do that in Outlook Calendar! Since I don't use this feature for real life, all my dates are wide open. But it wouldn't matter if they weren't, because I can create multiple calendars in Outlook. I can create a new calendar for every book I ever write! And, just in case my old-school leanings kick back in, I can print blank calendars to pencil in, too. No more whiting-out and Xeroxing my Daytimer! Wow. Progress.

Of course, I haven't actually made a plot calendar in Outlook yet. That's next week's task. Maybe when I get started I'll discover some bells and whistles (or limitations) I haven't foreseen yet, but right now I'm ninety-eight percent certain Outlook has this covered. Figuring out what plot beats to enter on all those digitized days? Yeah. That's a whole different deal. If Microsoft has a program for that, would somebody please fill me in?

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


August 2, 2009
August Already?

It's happening again, that phenomenon where winter lasts forever and summer speeds by far too quickly. It's not that I'm so much busier during the summer—at least, not this summer—but my love of long days and warm weather makes this the part of the year where I'd seriously like to freeze time. A perfect calendar year for me would be July through October, over and over. (And really, I'm only throwing in October because I love Halloween.)

Lately, I've been receiving e-mails from people searching for various books, which means it's probably time to update my FAQs page, but for now I'll recap here. The Clearwater Crossing series is out of print and no longer available in stores; here are a few places you might find used Clearwater Crossing books. This series was never sold as a set, so the only way I know of to buy a full set is to find someone who collected all twenty books and is selling them together. (I realize that sounds pretty far-fetched, but it does occasionally happen on eBay.) Also recently out of print is the paperback edition of The Queen of Second Place; however, Amazon still has hardcover copies here. In happier news, Queen B is not only still widely available, but also a Sweet 16 Magazine Super Summer Read. (I'm just saying, it being August and all.)

Speaking of summer reads, in addition to catching up on a lot of recent YA titles I was inspired by the new batch of Miss Marple mysteries on Masterpiece Theater to read my first Agatha Christie novel—mostly to see if her mysteries are as confusing challenging on the page as they are in a ninety-minute teleplay. To be fair, Masterpiece Theater airs on Sunday nights and by then my brain may be too exhausted to keep track of so many suspects, but having to hit the DVR rewind repeatedly did make me start wondering what the original text looked like. I've only finished one title so far, and it wasn't one of the Masterpiece adaptations, so I'm not sure I'm proving anything, but I'm having a good time. (And in case you're wondering, yes, Murder on the Orient Express makes sense. And yes, I did end up flipping back. Repeatedly).

What books are you all reading? Anything I should add to my list?

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—As much as I love summer, I do have something exciting to look forward to this winter.


July 9, 2009
Is It Wrong to Love Revenge This Much?

I was cruising agent Janet Reid's blog, one of my favorites, when I got pointed off to this:

 

As Homer Simpson might say, "It's funny because it's true." Doesn't everyone have a tale of gross mistreatment at the hands of some big company? And while getting satisfaction on the claim might have been preferred, revenge this clever takes satisfaction a whole new place.

Just so you know, United, this song will be playing in my head for days now—and the fact that the video has racked up over half a million hits since Monday suggests that a whole lot of people will be singing it with me. Not to mention all the people who'll be reading about it here. And here. And here.

Seriously, this is sweet.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

August 23 update—Over five million hits on YouTube now, and they've recently posted a sequel.


July 1, 2009
Full Emerald Jacket

Okay, I know you've seen it before. But you haven't seen it like this:

Jacket proofs for Green are here! If I were really clever—or had a bigger scanner—I could have scanned the entire thing, including the front and back flaps, but you get the idea.

This is an exciting/nerve-wracking time in the publication process, because a lot of things are about to start happening that I have no control over, things like subsidiary rights licensing, reviews, sell-in, and (eventually) sales, things I didn't even know existed and/or never thought about when I wrote my first book. Still, worrying about these things doesn't do any good (as I have thoroughly proven through extensive personal research). The best I can do now is wrap my baby in a full emerald jacket, send it out into the world, and hope people are nice to it.

Meanwhile, in completely unrelated news, this guy has started hanging out where I launch my kayak. The deck of my boat floats at least six inches below the surface of the dock he's been sunning his blubber on, which means he could beach himself on my legs and sink me anytime he felt like it. Which means I am giving him a wide, wide berth and the most intimidating glare I can muster. I love sea lions as much as the next person, but I won't be sorry when this one moves on. Baja would be far enough.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—Think I'm exaggerating? This one is just a baby. And yes, it's adorable in the video, but let's not forget it earned this ride by biting a kid on a public pier.


June 3, 2009
Five Things I've Learned Since My Last Journal Post

1)  It's no fun having your backside handed to you by a Scrabble-playing computer. Especially when that computer disallows an obvious word like fart and then plays oka on its turn. My skills are improving as a result of these beatings, though, and now that I know qi, xi, jo, and za are also all legal Scrabble words, I'm getting my own back.

2)  Sea lions really do attack—and when you're sitting on a kayak with only a plastic paddle to defend yourself against several hundred pounds of streamlined aquatic aggression, their teeth look truly huge. Did you notice in the article where it says these guys can weigh up to 1000 pounds? You're not winning an underwater smackdown with 1000 pounds. That's Jaws territory. Here's a mug shot of the pinniped thug (or his evil twin) who decided my kayak might represent competition for all the free food handouts from the sportfishing boats, tourists, and restaurants. He lives in this spot full-time now, apparently, and doesn't want anyone else near it.

"Thug? Not me, dude. I'm totally cuddly."

3)  No matter how many times or how carefully I go over a manuscript, I always find a mistake in the galleys that I didn't catch before. This has got to be one of those little-known laws of physics. Like Murphy's Law.

4)  So You Think You Can Dance is more fun than American Idol. It just is. Every season on this show I see something I didn't even know the human body could do. Last week, for example, I saw a guy dance with his scalp. Not convinced? Check out this clip from last year.

5)  You can make free animated movies on the Internet even if you have essentially no knowledge of animation or movie making (my qualifications exactly). All you do is choose some ready-made characters, select voices for them, type in their dialog, and voilà! I was thinking of making a book trailer for Green this way before I realized that the only free character I could pass off as Lily is a boy and there's a shocking lack of leprechauns in the acting pool.

By the way, I learned about this free-movie thing on agent Kristin Nelson's blog. One of her authors made a hilarious trailer for her own book, which Kristin posted there. If you have an interest in writing, or the book business in general, you should check out Kristin's blog. I've learned way more than five things there.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


May 3, 2009
The Most Potentially Dangerous $8.49 I've Ever Spent

I've never played home video games, not because I don't think they'd be fun, but because I do and there are only so many hours in a day. The last thing I need is to get hooked on some game that lives on my computer, constantly tempting me to play when I'm supposed to be writing. The Internet is bad enough. And so I have resisted (assuming we don't count pre-installed Windows solitaire, and especially FreeCell, which at one point needed to be conquered each morning before anything serious got started).

Over the years there have been video games I knew I'd like, but I stayed resolute. If I got the game, I'd want to play it. If I played enough, I'd get hooked. Getting hooked would turn into a huge time waster and eventually I'd have to quit. Better not to start at all, I reasoned. I can't go through withdrawal if I don't know what I'm missing. (I'm talking about you, FreeCell.)

And then, last week, I made a potentially serious error in game judgment: I laid down $8.49 for a video version of Scrabble.

I love Scrabble. Not only is it my favorite game, I can justify the time it takes to play on the basis that I'm sharpening my word skills. Unfortunately, none of the people I hang out with share my Scrabble love. My goddaughter plays with me occasionally, and even more rarely, my husband, but that's about it. I will admit to playing all by myself on our little travel edition, but punching down and removing those ornery plastic tiles becomes annoying fast enough that I'm over it after a couple of games.

Wouldn't it be great, I thought, to play Scrabble on a computer, without having to hassle with a board that's not facing you half the time and tiles that won't stay on their spaces?

Enter Amazon.com.

Enter my newest temptation:

This just may be the ultimate version of Scrabble, big and bright and beautiful, and minus every physical annoyance. With an always-eager, lightning-fast opponent and the Scrabble dictionary built right in. A mere click away on my home computer. Ready to play instantly, anytime I like. . . .

I may not have fully thought this through.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—Uh-oh. Now it's found its way onto my laptop, too.


April 16, 2009
Talent Shows

If you've read The Queen of Second Place or Queen B, you know I'm interested in talent—how it's defined, where it comes from, and what it means both to the people who possess it and those who witness it. All of that came rushing back to me this morning when, after catching a snippet about this woman on the news, I looked up this video on YouTube. You have to see it. Seriously. Click it now.

In Queen B there's a scene where an unexpected person has to step up to sing in a talent show and blows the audience away. Susan Boyle just did that in real life, which is orders of magnitude cooler because it actually happened. Watch and you'll see the audience instantly judge her based on her looks and her age, but as soon as she starts singing, the whole room is forced to realize they hadn't seen her at all. You go, Susan. I'm totally buying your CD.

Being so inspired by Susan made me remember another video I'd seen recently, featuring more unexpected talent. Seriously, if this one doesn't make you cry, you're watching it wrong:

My main character, Cassie Howard, summed it up like this:

     There's this weird kind of urge in people, a yearning we all share to see something extraordinary, something that makes us sit up and wonder what else human beings are capable of.
     Beethoven or badminton—in the end, it doesn't matter. All talent lifts us up. The gifts of others give us hope.
     Why?
     Because you never really know where talent is going to show.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


April 1, 2009
No Fooling

Remember when I mentioned how getting a cover just right is a lengthy process involving many people and multiple tweaks? If you entered this site via my home page and thought you noticed a difference in the cover for my new book, Green, you're right (and extremely observant). We tweaked it again!

So is this the completely final version? I think so. Probably. Then again, January is still a long way off. . . .

Meanwhile, be very careful today. If something sounds suspicious, may I suggest running in the opposite direction? Or, at the very least, be sure you have some good retaliatory pranks lined up.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


March 17, 2009
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Green is very much on our minds around here, so today I'm sporting the shamrock from head to foot. Literally. I'm even wearing green flip-flops.

I figured if Chicago can do this, the least I can do is wear matching shoes:

 

And here's somebody else who's totally feeling the green. So cute!

 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Don't forget to wear your green!

Laura


March 8, 2009
From Queen to Green

Here it is! I'm so excited to show you the cover of my new book, coming January 2010.

Drum roll, please. . . .

Ta da!

What do you think? As an author, I'm allowed to compliment my own covers because I don't design them. In fact, I pretty much just sit back and pray until my editor shows me what they've come up with. So it's not bragging when I say how cool I think this one is, all pretty and sparkly and green. And, as an added bonus, it really relates to the book. That solid gold key plays an important part in the story—a key role, we could say. (You're totally groaning right now, aren't you?) I'm indebted, once again, to my amazing editor, Wendy Loggia, and to designer Marci Senders for such a fantastic job.

"Yes, that cover is gorgeous, but what's inside the book?" you say. (I hope.)

Here's the inside scoop from the jacket flap:

Lily’s thirteenth birthday starts off with a bang. Literally. A present explodes on her front porch . . . and soon after, a trio of leprechauns (yes, leprechauns) appears in her bedroom. They whisk her away to a land of clover, piskies, a new friend, a cute guy, and lots of glimmering, glittering gold. A world of Green.

It turns out that Lily—like her grandmother before her—is in line to be keeper for the Clan of Green and in charge of all their gold. That is, if she passes three tests. And she has to pass them. Because if she doesn’t? She may never get to go home again. She’ll be stuck with the leprechauns.

Forever.

You read that right. Leprechauns. And no, I haven't lost my mind. Probably. You'll just have to read the book and find out!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

PS—Daylight Saving Time again. Oh joy.


March 2, 2009
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

I just found out that today would be Dr. Seuss's 105th birthday. How did I learn this?

In addition to Google's plans for world domination and the end of privacy (which, as far as I can tell, are advancing nicely), they really excel at coming up with catchy ways to represent the letters of their name.

But enough about Google. The purpose of this post is to pay tribute to a genius of children's literature, my San Diego homeboy, Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. (Okay, neither of us was born in San Diego, but we've both lived here a long time.) I have very few childhood memories of reading picture books, but I vividly remember reading his. Repeatedly. Dr. Seuss helped inspire a love of reading that eventually led me to write.

What was my favorite Dr. Seuss book? One I personally believe does not get enough credit: The Sneeches and Other Stories. I loved it for The Sneeches, which has a truly profound message. My second favorite was How the Grinch Stole Christmas, another little story with something big to say. Dr. Seuss proved that kids do like tales with morals—they simply don't appreciate having morals shoved down their throats. And honestly, who does?

I will admit I had a least-favorite Seuss book too: Green Eggs and Ham. I did not like Green Eggs and Ham. I did not like it, Sam-I-Am. The fact that I was a picky eater no doubt played a role in this, and while as an adult I can get behind Sam's point—it's good to try new things—as a kid I thought Sam-I-Am was a deranged, food-pushing stalker peddling eggs of dubious freshness. Common sense suggested avoiding him at all costs.

When I earned my English degree, a friend gave me Oh, the Places You'll Go! Its upbeat yet realistic take on an adult's journey through life has made it hugely popular as a graduation gift, which just goes to show that (wherever we go) we never grow too old for Dr. Seuss—or his messages.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Here's hoping wherever you are, there are beaches, and sneeches, and stars.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


February 25, 2009
Slight Delay on the C(l)over Front

I really am going to show you my new cover. But, unfortunately, not today. Getting a cover just right is a lengthy process involving many people—and mine is currently undergoing a couple of teeny, tiny tweaks. I'll post it soon, I promise.

In the meantime, here's a cover of mine you've probably never seen before:

Yes, it's green, but it's not Green. This is Get a Life, the first volume of my Clearwater Crossing series, in Chinese. Scanning this cover just now, I almost scanned the back by mistake, because this book is designed to be read from what Americans normally consider a book's back to our front. The text is composed of Chinese characters read in vertical columns from right to left, so this arrangement makes perfect sense when you think about it. The big ISBN bar code on the "front" is also a major tip-off.

Here's another of my covers you probably won't recognize:

Guesses? That's Ghost of a Chance in Swedish. Ghost of a Chance was popular enough in Sweden that there was a hardcover version (which utilized the original US art) followed by this paperback edition. I have to say that whoever chose these models got their eyes exactly right, especially James's, which look even more piercing and mysterious on the actual book.

Please stay tuned for the cover of Green, as well as for more information about my new book, just as soon as I get the Green light!

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura


February 8, 2009
Everything's Coming Up Clover

Big news! I have a new book coming out! Its title is Green, and I can't wait to show you the cover and tell you more about it.

The bad news: that info isn't cleared for takeoff yet. The good news: it will be, very soon.

And in the meantime, I can give you a hint:

Guesses? Anyone?

See you soon—with a new cover!

Laura


January 15, 2009
It's Newbery Time Again

After posting a journal entry about this article last year, I went on a Newbery-reading tear, revisiting books I had read before and catching up on some I had missed, especially ones that were mentioned here as especially good—or unworthy. As a result, I am even more fascinated by what makes a particular committee choose a particular book in any given year. I will definitely be watching the American Library Association Youth Media Awards on January 26 to see if last year's dialogue on the subject has any obvious impact on this year's choice.

But I won't be watching those awards only because of the Newbery. The Printz Award for YA literature is given during that same presentation, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, the Caldecott, and an array of other prestigious and coveted awards. I will be especially interested to see who wins the William C. Morris Award this year, a brand new prize "honoring a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens."

If you would like to watch the ALA awards presentation, it will be viewable via Webcast at 7:45 am MT on January 26. Here's the link. However, the number of viewers is limited so log on early. If you can't get a connection (or if you don't want to get up that early), you can see a repeat broadcast later in the day. Or you can sign up for Twitter updates as each prize is announced. Or you can run an Internet search for the list of winners, which generally shows up as a press release within minutes of the presentation.

In the interim, if you'd like to see (or make) some awards predictions, there are plenty of them floating around the Internet. Here is a good example. Regardless of who wins the prize this time, the discussion is sure to be interesting!

Thanks for visiting.
See you soon,

Laura

January 26 updatePublishers Weekly reports the winners here.


January 1, 2009
The Rose Parade Is Almost within My Pajama-Clad Reach

Happy new year! It's that time of year again. No, not the time we resolve to stop doing everything we enjoy; it's time to watch the Rose Parade. And I learned something very important on the news this week: People who park their RVs along the Rose Parade route are not being towed; they're being recruited to help fight terrorism. It's true! You, too, can park on the parade route if you report suspicious people (and pay $500).

Why is this so important? Because it gets me one step closer to my lifelong dream of seeing the Rose Parade in person without having to sacrifice my pajamas, a clean bathroom, and orange rolls baking nearby. For perks like these, I will gladly be on the lookout for suspicious people. I pretty much do that anyway.

So now there is only one obstacle standing between me and my dream: I don't own a motor home. I want a motor home, believe me. I've wanted one for a long time. Unfortunately, they are expensive to buy. And between gas, registration, insurance, and maintenance, they are expensive to use. They are even expensive not to use, as they are known to go about their business of slowly rotting in place no matter where you park them. Which brings me to perhaps my biggest motor home challenge: I don't have a place to park one—at least, not a place that won't make my husband and neighbors extremely irate.

I can't tell you how many different times and ways I have measured our driveway. Once, I even took photos of a huge AT&T truck wedged into the slot of gravel beside our garage to show my husband that it could be done. Unfortunately, for those pictures to serve as fair proof I would also have had to show him video of getting that truck back out—a procedure which turned out to be seriously no fun for the two professionals who drive it every day. But has any of this caused me to abandon my dream of owning a motor home and parking it in my driveway? No. It has not. Because, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am very, very persistent.

Who knows? Maybe 2009 will be the year I finally figure out how to fit that motor home, which means that in 2010 I could be posting from my own RV dinette on the parade route. Failing that, motor homes can be rented . . .

But today I'm doing the Rose Parade old-school—on the couch in high definition. And honestly, there's just nothing bad about that.

Thanks for visiting!
See you soon,

Laura

 

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